Savoie: The wine region you've never heard of

Jul 7, 2023by Andrew Lowry

by Andrew Lowry

And we had never heard of it either, until two weeks ago! Btw Savoie is pronounced, 'Sav-Wah'.

FYI, this blog is more of an announcement of a cool wine region that we are excited to learn more about than an in-depth analysis of one.

In all honestly, we've heard of Savoie a few times before when reading about France's other wine regions, but the chapters on Savoie are always really short, and usually at the conclusion of the text, kind of as an afterthought. So we, like many others, let this wine region slip our minds!

Turns out, Savoie is an afterthought to most wine drinkers. The wines from Savoie haven't really needed to leave the area because Savoie has no shortage of residents who love their hometown wine and don't see a reason to get wine from somewhere else. Savoie is also a winter vacation wonderland for skiers and a summer wonderland for adventure sports athletes and nature enthusiasts alike, so the tourism industry has been keeping this region pleasantly afloat. 

As of late, though, the wine region has seen a serious uptick in demand internationally as young wine drinkers are on the hunt for what's 'cool', and also for grape varieties that the majority of people haven't tasted before. That way, they can say, oh this is Jacquère, Jaaahhh keehhrrrr, you've never had it? Oh taste this, you'll never drink fricken Chardonnay again.

Yeah, we are making fun of ourselves because that is totally what we would do. This is why wine is so fun. 

Anyways, Savoie, sometimes called Savoy in its Anglicized form, is located in Eastern France (kinda southeast) right next to Switzerland and Italy and tucked in between the Chartreuse Mountains and Parc naturel régional du massif des Bauges. This is prime French Alps. Mont Blanc is here at 15,774 ft. and is the tallest mountain in Europe.

Most of the 5,200 acres of vineyards are at 800 to 1800 feet in altitude on south-facing slopes to catch all of the sunlight.

As you might expect, winters are cold and last a good while, so the region is home to grapes that do well in colder climates. 

Grapes of Savoie

White Grapes:

Roussette (Altesse)
Mondeuse Blanche
Pinot Gris
Frühroter Veltliner

Red Grapes:

Pinot Noir
Douce Noire
Cabernet Franc
Cabernet Sauvignon

**Bolded grapes are the grapes that shine the most/their local grapes

Overall, the wines coming out of Savoie are definitively alpine. They are crisp, fruity, and refreshingly acidic. Better yet, they come at a great value.

The 4 Appellations of Savoie

1. Vin de Savoie (with 16 crus named after villages)

White Wines Crus: (Les) Abymes, Apremont, Chignin, Chautagne, Cruet, Jongieux, Montmélian, Saint- Jeoire-Prieuré, Crépy, Marin, Marignan, Ripaille, Chignin-Bergeron, Ayze
Red/Rosé Wine Crus: Arbin, Saint-Jean-de-la-Porte, Chautagne, Chignin, Jongieux

2. Seyssel 
220 acres devoted to dry white wines made primarily from the Altesse (also called Roussette) and Chasselas and sparkling wines made from at least 75% Molette. 

3. Roussette de Savoie (4 vineyards)
Makes richer, fuller-bodied white wines made from 100% Altesse grapes. 4 crus total (Frangy, Marestel, Monthoux, Monterminod) that can append their name onto Roussette de Savoie (e.g. Roussette de Savoie Frangy)

4. Crémant de Savoie
Sparkling wines made in the traditional method (Champagne Method) with at least 60% local grapes (Jacquère and Altesse) and 40% of the final blend being Jacquère. The only difference in winemaking standards is that these sparklers only have to sit on their lees (dead yeast cells) for 9 months before release as opposed to Champagne's 12 months for non-vintage wines (and 36 months for vintage wines).

That's all! Go out and find some Savoie wines at your local wine shop, and if they don't have any, ask them to start stocking some! They'll thank you later.